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Water for Elephants
Water for Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in ch...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780002007771
ISBN-10: 0002007770
Publication Date: 5/2006
Pages: 335
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.

4.6 stars, based on 14 ratings
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 1
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reviewed Water for Elephants on + 120 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 88
Believe the hype you have heard about this book. Gruen's characters leap off the page and into your mind they are so well concieved. Almost every element you could want in a book is here - humor, a bit of a mystery, drama, angst, terror, compassion. It is about relationships; human to human; human and animal. It's about falling in love in an instant. It's about history. It's about life with a traveling circus and all the various personalities that make up a community.

The only word of caution I have is that there are elements of animal cruelty portrayed if that makes you squeemish.
reviewed Water for Elephants on + 404 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 48
I almost didn't read this book because of the wait list (over 900 people!) and because my TBR pile is now a TBR mountain. I'm glad I did read it. Knocked it out in two nights. Memorable read.

Life was hard in the 1930's, there was no work, the stock market crashed. The romance and excitement of the traveling circus was the television of that time. Of course, the circus life itself was hard, gritty, and terrible. And always, underneath it all, one finds compassion.

This is a love story, between a man and a woman, between a man and himself.
reviewed Water for Elephants on + 138 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 33
OK, First I must tell you that I don't really like circuses - at least the old fashioned kind. That's primarily because I had always heard that they mistreated their animals. This book did nothing but reinforce that opinion.

Even given that though, this is a VERY good book. Well researched with fascinating insight into the life of a 3rd rate travelling circus in during the Depression. The story and the action never slows down until the dramatic and surprising conclusion. And even though many of the characters were, frankly, nasty, the goodness and morality of the main character and others gives you hope.

Highly recommended. 4.5* (It would have been 5* if I had been a circus fan.)
reviewed Water for Elephants on + 134 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 26
Brilliant is an understatement - wonderfully plotted, well paced, characters with depth (both human and non). You can taste the popcorn and smell the hay. You worry throughout the book that things will turn out badly, but you know they simply can't. There should be more than 5 stars available.
reviewed Water for Elephants on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 25
Great book! I really wasn't all into it at first because I was not interested in Depression-era circus life. But I am telling you, as little as this interests you, this book is great and it will MAKE you interested in circus life. It's told by the main character when he is near the end of his days in a nursing home which makes it interesting since he is telling a story of his past.
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reviewed Water for Elephants on + 526 more book reviews
This was a book that I truly did not think I'd like. Not a big fan of circuses, I just didn't think it would interest me. Boy, was I ever wrong! This book thrust me into its story from the very first page, and left me wanting more. The ending is wonderful â perfect and satisfying. While I am very leary of any book that contains abuse to animals, I found that I could endure the occasional abuses described somehow. I was so completely enthralled by the characters of this book, and could see the whole story in my mind's eye as I read. The author does say in an interview that the elephant, Rosie, was based on a real elephant (two, actually) she discovered when doing the research for this book. I often felt like I needed a shower while reading the book because it is so atmospheric and real that I felt like I'd been riding on the train without a good wash! At the same time, I felt I was a resident of the nursing home depicted in the book and wanted to have a good meal myself. Excellent book, one of the best reads of my adult life. It will definitely stay with me a long time.
reviewed Water for Elephants on + 34 more book reviews
This was an amazing book. I read it a while ago, but I still think about the characters on a regular basis. What an amazing story and a fast read (it's over before you want it to be!)

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Jacob Jankowski (Primary Character)
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